Best known for his tough character in the likes of Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger came into this world with a congenital heart defect. The condition, which runs in his family, affects the structure of the heart and how it works, says the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2020, the film star revealed he had open heart surgery to get a new aortic valve.
On October 23, 2020, Schwarzenegger posted an Instagram picture of him flashing a thumbs up while in a hospital bed.
“Thanks to the team at the Cleveland Clinic, I have a new aortic valve to go along with my new pulmonary valve from my last surgery,” wrote Schwarzenegger.
He previously had surgery in 2018 to have a pulmonic valve replacement.
“I feel fantastic and have already been walking the streets of Cleveland enjoying your amazing statues,” he added. “Thank you to every doc and nurse on my team!”
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Aortic valve replacement
The NHS explains: “The aortic valve controls the flow of blood out from the heart to the rest of the body.
“An aortic valve replacement involves removing a faulty or damaged valve and replacing it with a new valve made from synthetic materials or animal tissue.”
Considered a “major operation”, the procedure is only considered “if you’re at risk of serious complications” from having a faulty valve.
The recovery period can be lengthy, too, which is why this operation is done only if needed.
What happens during the procedure?
Done under general anaesthetic, meaning you’ll be asleep during the operation, a large incision – about 25cm – is made along the chest.
This enables the surgeon access to the heart, which is forcibly stopped while a heart-lung bypass machine is used to overtake the function of the heart muscle.
“The damaged or faulty valve is removed and replaced with the new one,” the NHS adds.
“Your heart is restarted and the opening in your chest is closed.”
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While the operation can take a few hours, the recovery period could be up to three months.
“You’ll be given specific advice about any side effects you can expect while you recover and any activities you should avoid,” the health body adds.
“You won’t usually be able to drive for around six weeks and you’ll probably need six to 12 weeks off work, depending on your job.”
There are risks of surgery too, which can include:
- Wound, lung, bladder or heart valve infections
- Blood clots
- A temporarily irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
- Reduced kidney function for a few days.
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As seen by Schwarzenegger’s latest social media posts, the 75-year-old seems to be in good health.
In one of his latest posts, he shows himself donating and handing out turkeys.
“I have been coming to the @hollenbeckboxing for 31 years now and I won’t be slowing down soon,” he posted. “Do something for someone else this year, I promise you it is worth it.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in Jingle All The Way, which is showcasing on Saturday, December 10 at 5.20pm on Channel 4.
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